top of page

Stroke (CVA)

What is Stroke?

A stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), is a medical emergency that occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. This can lead to damage or death of brain cells within minutes, resulting in loss of brain function and neurological deficits.


There are two main types of stroke:


1. Ischemic stroke: This type of stroke occurs when a blood clot or plaque buildup blocks or narrows a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. Ischemic strokes account for the majority of strokes.


2. Hemorrhagic stroke: This type of stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain tissue, causing compression and damage.

Risk factors

  1. High blood pressure (hypertension)

  2. Smoking

  3. Diabetes

  4. High cholesterol levels (hyperlipidemia)

  5. Atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries)

  6. Obesity

  7. Physical inactivity

  8. Family history of stroke

  9. Age (risk increases with age)

  10. Gender (men are at higher risk than women, although the risk increases in women after menopause)


Symptoms of Stroke include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body

  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech

  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination

  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Treatment options

Prompt recognition and treatment of stroke are crucial for minimizing brain damage and improving outcomes. Treatment may include medications to dissolve blood clots (thrombolytics), medications to prevent further blood clotting (antiplatelet agents or anticoagulants), procedures to remove or repair blood vessels (such as thrombectomy or coiling), and rehabilitation therapy to help regain lost function and independence. It's important to remember that stroke is a medical emergency, and anyone experiencing symptoms of stroke should seek immediate medical attention.

Can exercise help?

Exercise plays a crucial role in the rehabilitation and recovery process for individuals recovering from stroke by promoting physical function, mobility, and independence. Here's how exercise can help those recovering from stroke:


  1. Improves motor function: Exercise helps to improve motor function and coordination by promoting the reorganization of neural pathways in the brain, facilitating the recovery of movement and muscle control affected by stroke-related brain damage.

  2. Enhances mobility: Regular exercise helps to improve balance, gait, and mobility, making it easier for individuals recovering from stroke to perform daily activities and navigate their environment safely and independently.

  3. Increases strength and endurance: Strength training exercises help to build muscle strength and endurance, improving functional abilities and reducing the risk of muscle weakness and fatigue commonly experienced after stroke.

  4. Promotes cardiovascular health: Aerobic exercise helps to improve cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease, which is important for overall health and well-being in individuals recovering from stroke.

  5. Reduces spasticity and stiffness: Stretching exercises help to reduce muscle spasticity and stiffness, improving flexibility and range of motion in affected limbs and reducing the risk of contractures.

  6. Enhances cognition: Exercise has been shown to have cognitive benefits, including improved attention, memory, and executive function, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals recovering from stroke who may experience cognitive deficits.

  7. Improves mood and mental well-being: Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood-boosting chemicals that help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, improving overall mental well-being and quality of life in individuals recovering from stroke.

  8. Facilitates social interaction: Participating in group exercise programs or rehabilitation classes can provide opportunities for social interaction, support, and encouragement from peers, which can be beneficial for individuals recovering from stroke.

bottom of page